Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of The Weinstein Company (TWC), announced Thursday (Oct. 5) that he would be taking a leave of absence from the company, in the wake of a New York Times report detailing sexual harassment accusations against the executive.
The story, written by investigative reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, cites numerous allegations of sexual harassment that are said to have occurred over the past three decades, stretching from his time overseeing Miramax Films to his more recent tenure with TWC. It also states that Weinstein reached at least eight legal settlements with women, according to two company officials that requested anonymity.
Actress Ashley Judd is quoted on the record in the piece concerning an incident that she says occurred two decades ago.
The Weinstein Company is a coproducer of the Lifetime hit Project Runway, with Bunim/Murray Productions, Full Picture Entertainment and Heidi Klum Company. Since Project Runway, the company has increased its activity in the unscripted and non-fiction space, with both National Geographic and Paramount Network announcing upcoming projects from TWC and Shawn Carter (aka Jay-Z) dealing with race in America — RACE (w/t) for Nat Geo and Rest In Power: the Trayvon Martin Story for Paramount Network.
The latter series is partly adapted from a book by Lisa Bloom, a civil rights attorney who recently represented Janice Dickinson in a defamation case against Bill Cosby, and three women who registered sexual harassment complaints against former Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly. though a Paramount Network spokesperson said no air date has been finalized, it is slated to air sometime in 2018.
Bloom is also named in the New York Times piece as a “lawyer advising Mr. Weinstein.” In a statement she issued to the paper, she wrote that Weinstein “denies many of the allegations as patently false.” Bloom, who reportedly has been advising Weinstein over the course of the past year on matters of gender and power dynamics, has also issued a statement regarding her work with the executive, which read in part: “Harvey is not going to demean or attack any of the women making accusations against him, although he does dispute many of the allegations. Instead, he is going to use this as a painful learning experience to grow into a better man. I will continue to work with him personally for as long as it takes.”
Elsewhere, regarding the Trayvon Martin docuseries that she is working on with TWC, she stated: “And as we work together on a project bringing my book to the screen, he has always been respectful toward me.”
The Trayvon Martin docuseries is the second project for the Viacom-owned network — currently Spike TV and set to rebrand as Paramount Network early in 2018 — that TWC has coproduced with Shawn Carter. The first, Time: The Kalief Browder Story, aired in January of this year.
Harvey Weinstein and his brother, and fellow co-chair of TWC, Bob, have also been active in the feature documentary space, with Miramax having distributed Micheal Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 and Errol Morris’ The Thin Blue Line, among others. The Weinstein brothers recently acquired the worldwide rights to Michael Moore’s upcoming Fahrenheit 11/9, an examination of the Trump presidency currently in production, via their Fellowship Adventure Group imprint.
Weinstein issued a lengthy statement to the New York Times following the report in which he wrote: “I came of age in the 60′s and 70′s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then. I have since learned it’s not an excuse, in the office — or out of it. To anyone.”
Elsewhere in the statement, Weinstein said: “I’ve brought on therapists and I plan to take a leave of absence from my company and to deal with this issue head on.”
On Thursday evening, the board of TWC reportedly met to discuss the situation. No news has emerged at present regarding the outcome of that meeting.
In 2014, the company was exploring options to sell off its TV unit, and in 2015, ITV was reportedly set to purchase the unit but ultimately, called off the move.
Shortly after the Times story broke, a statement was issued from another member of Weinstein’s legal team, attorney Charles Harder, in which he stated that the story was “saturated with false and defamatory statements about Harvey Weinstein,” and that a lawsuit was being prepared, with “all proceeds” to be “donated to women’s organizations.”
The New York Times piece appeared shortly after The Hollywood Reporter ran a story claiming that the paper and The New Yorker were working on stories concerning Weinstein.